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VM Backups

I have a ESX host that has a couple of VM's on it.  I also have an external 1 TB USB hard drive that I used to backup my server prior to P2V.  Is there a way to plug that drive into the ESX host and use it to store backup snapshots?  

What is the best way to do backups of my data that lives in a VM?
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PC4N6
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PC4N6
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2 Solutions
 
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Assuming you are using ESX/ESXi, it's unlikely if you plug your External USB drive into the server, you will be able to mount it or see the storage.

You might be able to use this storage in a virtual machine if that is suitable?

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coolsport00Commented:
If you have ESX 4.x, you can try and use VMDirectPath to connect your device:
http://www.petri.co.il/vmware-esxi4-vmdirectpath.htm

If this is ESXi (free version), your b/u options are pretty limited. You can shut down the VM and make a copy manually to your external drive using Veeam FastSCP (free: http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esxi-fastscp.html), your datastore browser, or WinSCP.

What version of ESX or ESXi do you have? Is this a single host? Do you have vCenter?

~coolsport00
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
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Free Backup Tool for VMware and Hyper-V

Restore full virtual machine or individual guest files from 19 common file systems directly from the backup file. Schedule VM backups with PowerShell scripts. Set desired time, lean back and let the script to notify you via email upon completion.  

 
coolsport00Commented:
Let me clarify...connecting your device would be a 'passthrough' to your VM. It can't be used by your host. There is potentially a soluton you can look at here by fellow expert "ryder0707":
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/A_2094-Copy-files-to-USB-drive-under-VMware-ESX4-ESXi4-vSphere-console.html

~coolsport00
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
or you could use VMware Converter to make backups, from a Workstation with your USB External Hard Drive attached.
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PC4N6Author Commented:
I am using ESX 4.x, it is licensed as VM Essentials.  It is a single host machine.  I really only need to backup certain files in the VM itself.  Is the easiest way to just hook up the drive to the VM?  Is that called passthrough?
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coolsport00Commented:
Yeah...try passthrough from my link above. If you 'see' the drive, you can just do a copy of your files to it. If you have some other b/u solution in your org, you can use that on a VM just like a physical box, as well.

~coolsport00
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, you should be able to use your USB External Device with USB Passtru'

check out http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/VMDirectPath/USB_Setup.php

You cannot store VMware Virtual Machine Snapshots, they are not backups.

If you have a licensed version of ESX/ESXi, you could purchase the following third party applications to perform backups

1. Veeam Backup and Replication - very popular, won many awards at VMworld 2010

download trial here - http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-backup.html

2. Quest vizioncore Vranger Pro - the first VM backup product with a good pedigree.

download trial here - http://vizioncore.com/product/vRangerPro

3. PHD Virtual Backup - very fast backup technology, using virtual applicance.

Download trial here - http://www.phdvirtual.com/phd-vb-51-vmware-vsphere


4. VMware Data Recovery - supports dedupe, integrated with vCenter - maybe included with your current VMware License

http://www.vmware.com/products/data-recovery/overview.html


Some free tools you could also consider

Free tool here:-

ghettoVCBg2 - Free alternative for backing up VMs

http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-9843 (needs licensed version of ESX)

Will work on FREE ESXi, no licensed required.

http://communities.vmware.com/message/1029047
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PC4N6Author Commented:
Thanks, both of you had really good info!
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Good Luck with connection.
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jhyieslaCommented:
You've had a lot of good input on backing up things, but I want to address another aspect of your question; snapshots.  A snapshot is NOT a backup of a VM; that is a gross misconception.  Here are some notes that I took from a VMWare seminar that better explains what a snapshot is:

A snap shot is a way to preserve a point in time when the VM was running OK before making changes. A snapshot is NOT a way to get a static copy of a VM before making changes.  When you take a snapshot of a VM what happens is that a delta file gets created and the original VMDK file gets converted to a Read-Only file.  There is an active link between the original VMDK file and the new delta file.  Anything that gets written to the VM actually gets written to the delta file.   The correct way to use a snapshot is when you want to make some change to a VM like adding a new app or a patch; something that might damage the guest OS. After you apply the patch or make the change and it’s stable, you should really go into snapshot manager and delete the snapshot which will commit the changes to the original VM, delete the snap, and make the VMDK file RW. The official stance is that you really shouldn’t have more than one snap at a time and that you should not leave them out there for long periods of time. Adding more snaps and leaving them there a long time degrades the performance of the VM.  If the patch or whatever goes badly or for some reason you need to get back to the original unmodified VM, that’s possible as well.  
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PC4N6Author Commented:
Thanks for the input on snapshots!  I was mispoken when I said snapshot.  I really meant backup.  And really all I am trying to do is have a backup of particular files in the VM.  Thanks again as this will be useful info in the future!
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, I thought you might have used the wrong word.
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